Michael Gove backs Holocaust study aid for schools

By Jessica Elgot, January 27, 2011
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Michael Gove meets survivors who have contributed to the LJCC resource

Michael Gove meets survivors who have contributed to the LJCC resource

Education Secretary Michael Gove has welcomed a new online tool for Holocaust education in schools, stressing the need for a permanent resource to keep survivors' memories alive.

At the Westminster launch of the London Jewish Cultural Centre's The Holocaust Explained, Mr Gove told the JC: "It's incredibly important that the next generation keeps learning about the horrors of that time. This resource particularly ensures that the documents that tell the story of the Holocaust and the testimony of those directly affected will always be there, indelible. And as time passes, the lessons won't fade.

"Undoubtedly there are still children in our schools who are ignorant of the Holocaust," he acknowledged. "Even though we have a good curriculum and fantastic teachers, inevitably knowledge of the past becomes more patchy.

"We have all seen different ways that some people, in Eastern Europe, for example, are inciting hatred and sometimes try to dismantle the memory of the Holocaust. We constantly need to ensure the next generation are aware."

Joan Salter, whose story appears on the website, chats to students at the launch

Joan Salter, whose story appears on the website, chats to students at the launch

Guests at the Foreign Office event on Tuesday enjoyed a preview of the site, aimed at the 11-14s and containing timelines, original documents and video testimony from survivors. Further resources for those up to 18 will be introduced in the coming year. Fifteen per cent of the country's high schools have registered to use the facility, which has been funded by private donations.

LJCC chief executive Trudy Gold said: "The Holocaust was not an event out of time, perpetrated by beings from another planet. Today, with the hindsight of history, many thinkers see it as the nadir of western civilisation. We can attempt to ask how and why."

Education and culture alone was no safeguard against discrimination, as the Nazi leaders behind the Final Solution were mostly educated to PhD level.

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt and the envoy for post-Holocaust issues, Sir Andrew Burns, also attended. Mr Burt said he had made time to talk to survivors during a recent Israel trip.

"I went to Café Europa to meet Holocaust survivors. There's a Tel Aviv foundation which goes out to find Holocaust survivors who have been living alone, with no family support, and gives them somewhere to socialise. I wanted to go there rather than Yad Vashem because I've been there maybe half-a-dozen times already. This was really important to do."

He added that the battle against antisemitism was constant. "There's always a kernel of it somewhere and so being ever vigilant is absolutely essential."

Last updated: 12:23pm, February 3 2011